- The Washington Times - Monday, December 26, 2005

BAGHDAD — Gunmen killed five police officers at a checkpoint north of Baghdad yesterday, and six vehicle bombs exploded in the capital, leaving seven more persons dead and wounding more than 40.

One U.S. soldier serving with Task Force Baghdad was killed when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his vehicle during a patrol in the capital, the military said.

Preliminary results released yesterday from ballots cast in early voting by expatriate Iraqis, soldiers, hospital patients and prisoners showed a coalition of Kurdish parties and the main Shi’ite religious bloc each taking about a third of the vote in the parliamentary elections.

At least 19 persons were killed across Iraq yesterday, a day after bloodshed claimed 18 lives, part of an increase in violence since a relative lull in attacks around the Dec. 15 vote.

A car was slammed into a police patrol in the capital in a suicide bombing, leaving three dead, officials said, and a motorcycle was rammed into a Shi’ite funeral ceremony in another suicide attack, killing at least two persons and wounding 26, said Maj. Falah Mohamadawi of the Interior Ministry.

Four other car bombings killed at least two and wounded 15, officials said.

Gunmen killed five officers and wounded four at a police checkpoint 30 miles north of Baghdad, said a morgue official in Baqouba.

Partial results released from voting in Iraq showed the United Iraqi Alliance, a religious Shi’ite coalition, with a large lead. The results have been attacked by Sunni Arab and secular Shi’ite parties, which say the election was tainted by fraud and other irregularities.

The alliance, led by the cleric Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, denies there was any fraud and is urging Iraqis to accept the results as it tries to form a “national unity” government drawing people from all communities.

The election complaints demonstrate the difficulty Iraqi parties will face in forming a government after final election results are released in early January.

The expatriate results released by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI) showed the Kurdistan coalition list with 36.5 percent of the vote and the Shi’ite United Iraqi Alliance winning 30 percent. Former Shi’ite Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s secular Iraqi National List garnered 11 percent and the main Sunni Arab Iraqi Accordance Front took nearly 5 percent. Smaller parties split the remainder.

In Jordan, a newspaper and an attorney for Saddam Hussein said a half brother of the former dictator rejected a U.S. offer of a ranking Iraqi government position in exchange for testimony against the deposed leader.

The attorney spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity. But chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Mousawi denied that there were attempts to cut a deal with Barzan Ibrahim.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko paid an unannounced one-day visit to Iraq yesterday amid the pullout of his country’s remaining 867 troops, his office said. All are due home by Friday.

Al Qaeda in Iraq posted a statement dated Sunday on an Islamic Web site, saying it had killed four persons who work in Baghdad’s green zone. Three were said to be Iraqi sisters.

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